Reader Question: Hi,
I am looking at buying a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu w/4 cylinder engine. Owner fairly recently had starter changed. Since then it has a problem that the engine dies, randomly, but regularly, when slowing to a stop. Does not die when accelerating or at a maintained higher speed…only when down shifting and preparing to come to a stop. We drove it a couple of miles from their house to ours…died a couple of times…drove it back, it never died.
When the engine dies, you can simply put it in park/neutral, and it will start right back…never does, it not start when this happens. Do not have to turn the key all the way off to get it to restart…just simply turn to start position and it will fire right back up. I am thinking installation of starter really has nothing to do with this, but am wondering if installer left something disconnected that should be reconnected near that area?
Local Chevy dealer performed the installation of starter. We really like the car and I am sure we can get the problem resolved if we buy it, but I thought I would try to get a head start by asking some questions.
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Any thoughts or tip would be appreciated.
I would start by cleaning the throttle body and the idle control motor and see what happens. The throttle body is where the fresh air intake hose from the air cleaner meets the engine. Carbon can build up in the inlet opening causing erratic idle and dying at idle complaints.
Just about any local repair shop can do this simple and inexpensive maintenance item for you. It really should be done periodically for maintenance anyway regardless.
I would have the seller look into that for you BEFORE you buy the car. If that does not correct the issue…I would pass on this vehicle. The starter installation probably has nothing to do with it.
You might want to ask the mechanic to check for a vacuum leak under the hood when they clean the throttle body. Look and listen for a hissing noise with the engine running. A rubber vacuum hose or plastic connection can come loose causing a vacuum leak, which can also cause symptoms as you describe.
One the best economy vehicles on the road today in my opinion…take a test drive you will be impressed, and they are CHEAP.